Section 6. Lorenzo Patarol’s Aesthetising Garden
With the wealthy rentier Lorenzo Patarol (1674-1727), the study of nature as materia medica – a source of substances that help to heal the ailing body – gave way to erudite curiosity and the pleasure of natural rarity in itself. A classicist, numismatist and author of poems and orations, Lorenzo Patarol established a private garden – near his family palace at Madonna dell’Orto in Venice – which still exists today, albeit with different plant varieties. His descendants continued to augment its variety and rarity, so that in 1821 there were 600 exotic and rare trees, 180 species of roses and a unique collection of variegated-leaved plants from Australia and South Africa. While enriching his garden, Lorenzo Patarol also produced a dried herbarium, which shows his interest not so much in the medicinal or toxic properties of plants as in their botanical classification. But above all, the work reveals his particular inclination to aestheticise: the dried specimens are elegantly arranged on the page, here and there alternating with a few coloured lepidoptera or other insects, for ornamental purposes. For conservation reasons, it has not been possible to display the herbarium, but we can glimpse all its magnificence thanks to the photographs taken by Francesca Saccani (Wigwam Club Giardini Storici Venezia).